Outrage in Jerusalem over ‘rabbi’ exposed as Christian missionary

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Outrage in Jerusalem over ‘rabbi’ exposed as Christian missionary

Israeli media say the man, named as Michael Elkohen, infiltrated a Charedi community in a bid to convert its members

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Michael Elkohen (Photo: YouTube)
Michael Elkohen (Photo: YouTube)

A Charedi community in Jerusalem was this week rocked by claims in the Israeli media that their rabbi was a Messianic Christian seeking to convert his community.

The man, who is originally from New Jersey, joined the community in the northern neighbourhood of French Hill with his wife and five children several years ago.

He is said to have worn strictly-Orthodox clothes and performed marriage ceremonies in his “rabbinical” role, while simultaneously advocating the teachings of Jesus.

The Jerusalem Post, which named the man as Michael Elkohen, said while he claimed to be a Cohen and Jewish from birth, his surname was originally Elk.

The allegations were first highlighted by Beyneynu, a group that monitors missionary activity in Israel.

Shannon Nuszen, who runs Beyneynu, told the newspaper: “He ran a yeshiva for Messianic Jews, was giving smicha [rabbinic ordination] to messianic Jews, and conducting weddings in Messianic communities in Israel and the US,” said

“He wanted to become influential in the Jewish community. He was supposed to be in a place that when God removes the blinders from the eyes of the Jews, he could harvest souls and bring them to Jesus – that is what a covert missionary is there for.”

The Behadrei Haredim website claimed Elkohen had “infiltrated” a different strictly-Orthodox community prior to 2014 and moved away when he was discovered.

It claimed Elkohen’s secret was revealed when one of his daughters told a classmate that “Jesus accepted everyone even if they are wrong”.

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